Web Hosting Providers Features: Is Live Chat Worth it for Your Small Business?

Getting involved with a web hosting provider is something that usually lasts at least one year, so it’s a big decision. There are many different web hosting companies to choose from, so it’s important that a hopeful website owner considers the different features that a company may or may not offer. There are tons of different features of a web hosting company including Bandwidth, site statistics, advertising credits, spam filters, and FTP manager, so the choice can be overwhelming. However, there is one feature that I simply cannot live without—live chat.

For those who are unfamiliar, live chat is a way for you to speak with a professional online if you are having any problems. This eliminates the waiting on the phone or having to find a quiet place to try and explain your problem. You can live chat anywhere and at any time as long as you have a computer.  For someone with a lot of experience “chatting” online, this feature is a must-have in a web hosting provider.

However, the live chat feature may not be worth it for everyone. Consider some of the reasons live chat works and some of the reasons that it still has its problems for a web hosting provider:

Web Hosting Providers Who Love Live Chat

The majority of web hosting providers do offer live chat. Some of the top web hosting providers such as HostGator, Just Host, and my personal web hosting provider iPage, offer live chat for several reasons:

  • Speed – Live chat allows a web hosting provider to talk with a user immediately because staff can talk with more than one person at a time. Most people ask questions that can be answered quickly by a professional, so this cuts down on time for everyone.
  • Quality – Someone using the web hosting providers live chat feature usually does not need to be a paying customer. If someone wants to simply check the quality of answers and speed of the live chat before making a purchase, he/she can do that.
  • Convenience – As discussed above, live chat is convenient. You can do more than one thing while you have a live chat going. You ask your question, you surf the net and then when the provider gets back to you, you can jump back on the “call.”
  • Cost – From the web hosting providers’ perspective, live chat software is much less expensive than having to hire a bunch of employees. Because employees can talk with more than one person at once, live chat software is usually the less expensive choice. You can learn more about choosing live chat software here.

In general, web hosting providers want to offer the most up to date features, and live chat is certainly one of them. This allows a web hosting provide to stay on top of the competition. However, not all web hosting providers see it this way.

Web Hosting Providers Who Opt Out of Live Chat

One of the most popular web hosting providers, GoDaddy, does not offer live chat. Although this comes as a surprise to most, there are actually quite a few reasons that live chat isn’t as good as it appears on the surface:

  • Priorities – Live chat does not allow a web hosting provider to prioritize different issues. If someone has an urgent matter, he/she is going to have to wait in line.
  • Server Problems – Chat will not work if the server is down where the live chat software is hosted. This could cause a panic and the phone lines to ring off the hook. For some web hosting providers, there isn’t much of a system in place when live chat isn’t working.
  • Technical Support – Live chat professionals can fix smaller problems, but if you have a technical problem those speaking with you via live chat will not be able to help. You will be given a ticket and then the IT team gets back to you in a few days. This makes live chat somewhat of a waste.

Ultimately, the decision to go with a web hosting provider that offers live chat or that does not offer live chat is up to the future website owner. It’s important for a new website owner to consider whether or not the live chat is easy to use, think realistically if talking via the Internet works for him/her, and then consider the other features offered by web hosting providers. Is live chat more important than other features a web host can offer? For me, live chat is a priority, but for others live chat is just an extra.

Does your web hosting provider offer live chat? Have you found this to be a feature worth having for a new website owner? Let us know in the comments!

Photo Credit: noracaron.com

Amanda DiSilvestro is a writer on topics ranging from social media to business promotional items. She writes for an online resource that gives advice to small businesses and entrepreneurs for the leading business directory, Business.com.